Racks of raw meat hanged to dry along the air-conditioned vents of a second-storey HDB corridor in Blk 1 Beach Road has disgusted neighbours and prompted the National Environment Agency (NEA) to investigate after residents complained that the meats do not only stink up the whole corridor but also attract pests like flies and birds.
Two residents who spoke with TNP reporters said that they have taken to avoiding the corridor due to the bad smell and pest problem. One resident said: “I don’t remember exactly how long this has been going on, but it has been years, at least two to three, as far as I remember. They don’t do it all the time, but whenever it is hot or sunny, they usually will do so.”
Another resident added: “It is not the owners of the unit where the vents are, I think. I see people turning the corner behind my flat in the morning with the meat. When the wind blows in my direction, I can smell the stench from the raw, drying meat. It is so unhygienic, who would even eat it?”
Fed up with having to avoid the corridor due to hygiene concerns, residents sent pictures of the drying meat to the Chinese daily. The evening paper found out that the source of the outdoor meat racks is a 60-year-old man who makes and sells meat jerky.
Besides using the air-con vents at the second-storey of the HDB block, the senior citizen also dries strips of meat on trays that are placed across overturned plastic stools on the ground floor of a nearby block. Some residents have also alleged that the man dries his meat at Blk 6 Beach Road.
Telling the Chinese daily that he sun-dries the meat daily, the meat manufacturer added that he can get the meat 80 per cent dry by his methods on good days. Once the meat is dry, he cooks and sells the meat on the street or to a store at Golden Mile Complex.
According to the Chinese daily, the Golden Mile Complex store typically sells 20-30 boxes of the meat jerky daily and has been selling the meat jerky for about a year and a half. While admitting that they are not aware of how the meat jerky is manufactured, the store owner told the paper that they are now planning to stop selling it.
Regular customers, however, do not seem to see what the fuss is about. A 27-year-old foreign worker who is a returning customer told the daily: “These meats are manufactured by a Thai woman in her forties using methods similar to those used back home. When eaten, it tastes especially of home.”
Meanwhile, the NEA is looking into the incident and said that it will take firm action against anyone who flouts the Environmental Public Health Act that it administers. The statutory board told TNP:
“(We) received feedback on the drying of raw meat at Blocks 1 and 6 Beach Road in front of air-conditioning compressors and along a corridor respectively, and the sale of this meat after being processed.
“NEA will not hesitate to take firm action against anyone found to be in violation of the Environmental Public Health Act. We would also like to advise members of the public who come across food prepared in poor hygiene conditions to not purchase it, as the food may be unsafe.”